Editor in Chief
Millersville University occupies a small portion of Lancaster County, but our student body includes students from many diverse locations and backgrounds. This diversity offers the opportunity for students to host unique events to share their culture with their peers. In times of trouble, students can turn to those same peers to create an impactful support system.
At a time where Puerto Rico is still dealing with the damages from Hurricane Maria, three members of the Millersville University community have decided to band together to send any assistance they can to help restore the island.
Millersville undergraduate student Carlee Nilphali, graduate student Phil Rooney and Alumna Karissa Montaner have joined together to plan a benefit concert for Puerto Rico, which they’ve titled “Love Songs for Puerto Rico.” The concert will be held in the Student Memorial Center Multipurpose Room on Nov. 17.
“Carlee Nilphali came to me and asked for advice on how to put together an event like,” said Rooney. “We had both been just kind of thinking about the events that had happened and were just really upset and ruminating about it. So when she came to me about the idea I instantly said ‘yes please let’s do something.’”
Nilphail and Rooney have been working together on campus to connect with student organizations who are interested in contributing to the event. So far the benefit concert is backed with the support of Her Campus, Student Social Work Organization, Society on Latino Affairs (SOLA), Friends of Advocates of Native Nations (FANN), Millersville Music Productions (MMP), WIXQ, All Campus Musical Organization (ACMO), The Citimard Players, College Democrats, and Global Marauders.
Montaner, who resided in Puerto Rico until the onslaught of Hurricane Maria, has been using her Lancaster roots to reach out and encourage organizations from the city to come and participate in the event as well.
“We are trying to get people from local groups to come out and to have tables set up at the concert with information and resources for people who are inspired to go beyond [the concert] . . . if [people] want to donate money that’s great, but we also want to provide the opportunity to get more involved and figure out what they can do within the community,” said Rooney.
“Love Songs for Puerto Rico” was originally planned with hopes of providing both physical and monetary donations. The organization that was set to accept the physical donations, The Bregada Express, is unable to accept any physical donations at this time due to federal restrictions. According to Rooney, this caused the trio of Millersville community members to switch their focus to solely monetary donations.
“That’s all we can do right now. It’s not exactly what our plan was but were still excited to be able to do something,” said Rooney.
All donations given at “Love Songs for Puerto Rico” will go to the nonprofit organization Concilio. Concilio is a Philadelphia-based Latino organization whose mission is “to cultivate the strength and resilience of children and families, improve the quality of life in our community, and maintain our community’s heritage, history, and culture.” A representative from Concilio will be present at the benefit concert with further information about the organization.
Most of the performances will be held by students, but there will also be community members and individuals from Puerto Rico on the stage in the SMC. There will be a mix of musical performances as well as spoken word performances and poetry readings.
Although the damage Puerto Rico has sustained due to the hurricane is a somber topic, there will be upbeat performances throughout the evening.
“We want to keep it positive, we want to keep it hopeful,” said Rooney.